x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Police hash haul 'biggest in 20 years'

Sharjah Police make their biggest drug haul in 20 years after seizing 2,534 kilograms of hashish from a ship transiting through Khorfakhan waters.

SHARJAH // Police said yesterday they had made their biggest drug haul in 20 years after seizing 2,534 kilograms of hashish at a Sharjah port following a tip-off and sting operation.

The drugs were seized on Wednesday from a ship transiting through Khorfakhan waters.

Police said they were tipped off by security sources to the presence of an international gang with a large quantity of drugs hidden aboard a vessel within UAE waters, off the Khorfakhan coast. The informant said the smugglers were searching for a local buyer.

An investigative team was formed to set up a sting operation by posing as serious buyers. A deal was reached with the smugglers and on Wednesday, the day of the exchange, the boat was raided.

Police arrested 12 Iranians and two Pakistanis in connection with the bust, a police spokesman said yesterday. The boat was brought to shore by a tugboat, and the suspects confessed to planning to smuggle the drugs into the UAE.

"We named the operation 'Eastern wind'," the spokesman he said. "It is the biggest operation, where a huge amount of hashish was planned to enter the country, in 20 years."

Sharjah Police made the arrests in co-operation with the coast guard. Maj Gen Humaid Mohammed al Hudaidi, the director general of Sharjah Police, said the arrests had prevented a dangerous drug from entering the country and doing harm to citizens.

He dedicated the success of the operation to Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed, Ruler of Sharjah and Sheikh Saif bin Zayed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, who he said had offered valuable guidance in the operation.

Sharjah has witnessed its share of major drug hauls in recent years. In August 2008, 202kg of heroin worth Dh40 million were seized.

In 1991, police seized 3 tonnes of hashish at Khorfakhan Port, disguised as cooking flour.

ykakande@thenational.ae